Nowadays, the seamless photo-collage is one of the standards of architectural representation used to substantiate spatial narrative. The final image, formulated via the selection and cohesive layering of quintessential human and non-human bodies, is experienced as a totality, its disparate parts seen and understood all at once. What is implied by the integrity of this visual construction is twofold. First, separate entities sourced from multiple image databases are subsumed by the architect’s spatial concept and aesthetic and combined within a single realism. Individual images lose their distinct identities in the overall reading, and their existence and cultural value are questioned only when the collage lacks an adequate level of seamlessness. Second, by furnishing viewers with a preconception, the image facilitates the assumption that the fabrication of the space and its occupation are continuous. Little room is left for imagining miscellaneous or unfamiliar ways of inhabitation.
If these effects are inherent to the collage, perhaps they may be counteracted by destabilizing the very structure of the medium. Unlike the majority of twentieth century collages that emphasizes a horizontal blend of individual units and results in pastiche, the works of Richard Hamilton reveal a different approach. In them, Hamilton makes clear reference to the culture of mass-produced commodities, yet his layering method utilizes misalignments of perspectives and pictorial disparities between units to evoke individual desires to escape the homogeneity of mass culture.1 This tabular way of collaging reclaims subjects’ control over items that shape their identities, not necessarily overturning but balancing the axis of power between space and inhabitants.
- William R. Kaizen, “Richard Hamilton’s tabular Image”, October, Autumn, 2000, Vo. 94. The Independent Group (Autumn, 2020), pp.121. ↩︎